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Finnmark 2007 Diary » Blog Archive » Kautokeino

Kautokeino


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11.45pm Friday March 23rd
Air temperature: minus 4 degrees
Snow temperature: minus 4.5 degrees
Lat: 68 degrees,56,51 N Long: 23 degrees,05,21 E

After our arrival in Kautokeino last night, perhaps the most important centre for reindeer herders, where the Sámi Institute for Indigenous Peoples, the Reindeer Husbandry Centre, and the Sámi University College are situated. We first settled the dogs in for the next three days. Tommy, Tom Frode’’s young assistant, is preparing a team for the Norwegian Dog-Mushing Championship next week, and will borrow some of our best dogs for the three day event. They get double rations to build up their fat content , and will sleep in straw to conserve energy and warmth. We sleep in cabins, three to each, and use the stop to wash properly, to wash and dry underclothes, to catch up on mail and to prepare meetings, to eat regular warm food, and to sleep longer!

Today has been busy with interviews and get-togethers. It’s odd but not strange to find that it needs time to create confidence, so we’re permanently at variance with the film crew who want interviewees to tell you everything in five minutes We met with Ellen-Anne’’s grandmother, great aunt, and uncle, respectively Bent-Anne, Karin, and Per Ailo who is a herder, writer, and philosopher on reindeer husbandry. Thereafter we met, Johan Mathis Turi, Secretary-General of the World Reindeer Herders Association, and our ally and supporter on this expedition, as well as Svein Mathiesen, head of the Ealat Reindeer project. They both have powerful convictions and much to say, not always comfortable to Nordic and Western ears, and also about confidence building!

We’’ll attempt to précis some of their conclusions in tomorrow’s diary, when we return from taking snowmobiles into the Tundra to look at Ellen-Anne’’s father’s herds. We will be using snow mobiles because, and this is a small contemporary irony, they frighten the reindeer less than dogs…

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Johan Aslak Eira, a young and gifted herder from the Karasjok region, in traditional gear on a contemporary vehicle, waiting to take us out to his herds (and, hells bells, can this machine move… until every bone in your body rattles)

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